Dear Uncle Nitin (or Pepi, as I used to call you back in the day),
It's hard to know exactly how to put this into words, but I didn't expect to say bye to you so soon. Even though we weren't in touch much after I graduated college, I always thought of you not only as an uncle, but also as my buddy. When I was little and you would come visit Canton, I looked so forward to those visits and getting to hang out with you. You always brought your refreshing energy and nonjudgmental nature, and you had a wicked sense of humor. You were also deep. I liked how you let me make jokes and we didn't have to take ourselves too seriously. I laughed about how you spent forever in the bathroom getting your hair just right. And about how I could pick you up and carry you a few feet. You also had that photo frame with a button, which when pressed would play your recorded message that said, "As the path of life we follow, we will follow in each other's shadows." I know it sometimes annoyed you that I kept pressing the button to hear the message and laugh, but you didn't get mad and you actually laughed with me.
You were quietly inspiring in my life, never asking for a lot of attention, but still making a big impact. I was very excited that my college in Boston was within driving distance from you in New York, so that we could see each other. Over the years, I remember you earning your degree, starting a job, getting married, buying a house, having kids, and opening Rita's Ice. You made living life look natural and unforced. You did your thing in the U.S., and I wanted to go ahead and do that for myself too. Your and Shilamami's house was always warm and welcoming to visit. I remember when you invited me and my college friends over, and we ate good food and watched "Clueless." You understood my generation, but I suspect you got people from any age and walk of life. You were just easy to get along with. My college friends always remembered that trip too and we would share memories from it.
You walked your own path, and I'll always remember that about you. I miss you and think about you a lot. What I learned from you, I'll keep carrying along with me in my own life. I'm sad that you're gone so soon, it would have been nice to see you and talk with you again. But what you meant to me will stay in my life, and I'll still hang out with you in that way---remembering the laughs and a really cool and unique dude who appreciated other people's unique qualities too.